Friday, December 28, 2018


The counters were cleared and wiped clean leaving a vast surface for the job at hand. Flour flew everywhere as the potatoes transformed from dirty tubers to white mashed potatoes, to a soft dough, and finally into lovely lefse.

No rolling this year, instead I'd take a ball of the potato based dough and place it in the tortilla press. I'd swing the top down and press. Voila! A lefse ready to be cooked. So much easier than the rolling pin, which I was never good friends with. I'd peel them out and lay them in a row for Carm to cook.

Some stats: 6lbs unpeeled russet potatoes yielded 82 small lefse. 4 frying pans plus the griddler laid flat were used for the cooking. 2 big burners were set at 2, back burners just under 4, griddler on high. I cooked the potatoes in the instant pot for 10 minutes and let them NR for about 10 minutes.

We got the poodles faces clipped today too so they'll look spiffy for New Years Eve, and won't end up looking like they've been abandoned while we are on our trip (just 6 days now!)

I've tamed the spare bedroom as well. Clothes were laid out and checked off the list the other day. Today I got them all into suitcases and carry-ons. Carm's stuff is in hand as well. Half a suitcase is shoes (I'm exaggerating of course - or am I?). It won't take much to get finished.

I still have to empty out a drawer in the dresser for Pat's stuff.

Yesterday I got busy and made the soup and green bean cassorole for New Years Eve. They are in the freezer and will pop out ready to finish cooking. I felt ahead of the game until I started writing out my task list for the 31st.

Every year I swear I will never do another roast beef the celebration and every year I let myself be talked into again. Last year's fiasco wrecked a huge prime rib and the yorkshire pudding was an exercise in anxiety to get them to cook. It spurred a shopping trip for a new stove so hopefully it will save me this year.

Oh... and I've never cooked a beef tenderloin. The internet is sometimes my friend but this time there are 2 ways to cook it - under highish heat for 25-30 minutes, or slow heat for 2-3 hours. Either way I'm left juggling everything at the last minute, with guests milling around, and me spinning in one spot in the middle of the kitchen, unsure of what to do next.

Yesterday the sun blessed us again. In the morning I curled up in a sunspot on the sofa with a hot bowl of Red River Cereal sweetened with a teaspoon of maple syrup. I had just finished feeding Grace several spoons - she loves it when I spoon it right down her gullet. She peep and sqeaks her thanks. In those moments of eating and sharing my breakfast, here was so much to enjoy.

We've been dropping into the grocery store everyday these last few days checking to see if the Christmas Puddings are on sale. I'll get one for next year and soak it with rum from our travels.

Hummm... that makes me think that some of the hard sauce that I made this year would be nice in a coffee, maybe with a touch more brandy for flavour...

I'm not freaking out that we have a party in 3 nights and are leaving on our trip in 6.  No... not at all...

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas - Great Expectations

The air is crisp and the sun is blazing: the perfect day for Christmas. Carm is even suffering through more Christmas carols. I have my favorites streaming from my phone onto the stereo... lots of choirs sing to the heavens.

We are enjoying a quiet morning and will head to my parents early this afternoon.

Last night Trudie & Leo came over for a 'cheat' turkey dinner. I had one of those butterball rolled turkey breasts and threw it into the instant pot along with onions, celery, mushrooms and rosemary to make a gravy. It cooked in 1/2 the time it would have needed in the oven and was moist and tender from the steamy cook. More mushrooms and onions simmered in the other instant pot for a savory soup. Trudie brought a mushroom risotto so woodland delishiousness was heavy on the menu.

We each supplied a bottle of Chateau neuf de Pape to wash everything down so it was a real celebration.

I haven't decided yet if Spike will come to Grandma's house this afternoon. He loves to go, but also insists on going home not long after supper. If I mention that we are going he will cry and carry on until we get into the car. Then he looks out the window until we turn onto her street... then there is no quieting him!

Christmas is a funny time filled with so much  expectation that sometimes doesn't get fulfilled. In years past we'd go to my parents early in the morning and there would be piles of presents which we'd open one at a time. It was a crazy display of commercialism but so much fun. After presents we'd gather around the table for Christmas Morning Wife Saver, a concoction of bread, milk, cheese and ham. So delicious and special.

After that Carm and I would dash away to his family's lunch. A pile of people would gather around the table for Carm's mom's canalonni smothered in rich tomato sauce. Several tables would be placed end to end to fit everyone.

Then we'd go home and collapse on the sofa... after feeding feathered friends and furry beasts. Some years it was a trip out to the barn to see the ponies - I miss those years.

It was hard for me to adapt to new traditions. Many years I'd feel depressed and out of sorts. Things weren't the same and I wasn't happy about that. This year I feel okay. We don't do stockings or presents, and I'm okay with that. We have instead spent a quiet morning and made a big breakfast together. My expectations have finally adapted.

Happy Christmas everyone. I hope you are all healthy and happy and spending the day with those you love.

Monday, December 24, 2018

tis the season

I almost flew across the room at him when he called us elders... I mean, what the heck!!!! He was a young guy, but not so young as he had 17 year old twins... but elders... wow. I can see thinking Carm might be - he has a head full of white hair, but me? Sure I have a bit of grey, but gosh...

Nick (I think) was here installing a soft-start switch onto the heat pump, the final step in making our house generator ready. With the switch in place the transition from powerline to generator should be smooth. We still can't run the hot water heater, dryer, and stove, but the fridge, freezer and water pump will all work well. And if the propane tank is full the furnace should run as well. A beauty solution.

I've hunkered down for much of the last few days, weathering the grey and rejoicing when the sun makes an appearance. I've been having lots of anxiety which I attribute to our up coming trip, but I happened to go back to last years mood log for these dates and noticed the same trend. So maybe it has more to do with the season - dark, dreary, and depressing.

Yesterday we did go to Inga & Shane's (just around the corner) for a small gathering of their family and friends. We both had a lovely time. In the past I'd have trouble with these sorts of events, where I don't know anybody, but luckily I had no trouble. Their family members are interesting so it was a true pleasure to meet them.

Carm has been subjected to countless Christmas programs and movies: 'Santa Clause is coming to town', 'Rudolf the red nosed reindeer', 'Holiday Inn', 'White Christmas', and finally last night 'Disney's A Christmas Carol'. He's been a good sport and is getting lots of reading done... although I do see him watching out of the corner of my eye ;-)

The snow is lightly falling. Christmas lights are on and some others over the sparkling table set for 4. All the cutting and prepping has been done and it will soon be time to start cooking. We have a quiet evening planned with Trudie and Leo and since it is Christmas Eve we've eached unearthed a treasured bottle of wine that has been aging in the cellar.

The elders will gather around the table and cheer the festive season.

Tomorrow we'll spend the afternoon at my parents and feast again, this time with dear family.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

I (don't) swear

No swear words joined the triumph of the skies this afternoon.

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Peace on earth prevailed, or at least peace in the kitchen. Hark! The shortbread was perfectly tender and just on the verge of turning brown. This has not happened in recent history; for the last few years they've either been burned or raw, but this year! success! The new stove is proving it's worth everytime it is used. I wonder how the yorkshire pudding will turn out this New Years?

I had every light on in the kitchen for this endeavour: two bulbs above the sink, 4 in the middle of the room, and 10 over the island... thank goodness for LED! The kitchen would have been 100F if they had been incandescent - I wouldn't have needed the stove :-0

'Why every light' you might ask? Because there is a thick layer of cloud between me and the blessed sun and I needed to fight the gloom for a little while. It was bright and cheery with carols on the stereo, my little tree twinkling, and the lovely smell of suger and butter cooking. Oh yeah. Sugar and butter. So long waistline. So long cruise wardrobe.

It always amazes me what you can make with some flour, butter, and milk: cookies, yorkshire pudding, biscuits, pancakes, a few extra ingredients and you have bread. None of it good for you, but oh, my, so good. It's a miracle in carbs.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

blessed sun

Sun, oh blessed sun. We haven't seen much of it so far this December, the clouds have been gathered over the house with barely a break. Oh sure, Saturday was sunny, and we took that opportunity to drive around rejoicing in the sun in our eyes. First a stop to pick up bags of dog food - we want to be stocked up for our trip. Then 'all-day breakfast' at the Country Kitchen, a favorite greasy spoon, followed by a quick deek into liquidation. We actually walked out empty handed!

Two pots of soup are simmering in their respective instant pots: Irish White Bean and Cabbage; and, Loaded Potato. Oh yum, they smell so good. As usual I tried to put too much in the pot, but I think it will be okay. Even though I use the 8qt most often for soup, I still go crazy chopping up too many ingredients. Oh well! What am I going to do with all this soup? I guess we'll eat a bit tonight and the rest will go into the freezer. I'll be ready for drop in supper guests!

The dogs had a vet visit last Tuesday... rabies shots and a checkup. Poor Kabira has a tooth that needs to come out but we can't get an appointment for the extraction till Feb 7th. I don't think it is bugging her too much though - she ate a big chunk of venison bone yesterday.

We had a great time at Kevin and Laurie's Christmas party. It is lovely to see all the neighbors and to meet new people - we didn't get home till past 1am so I guess we had a good time! We walked over, which is a bit dodgy as the traffic on the road travels at a great rate, luckily we snagged a ride home.

Three days away from Solstice!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

looking marvelous

The wind tried to drive me back as I trudged to the gate, but I pressed forward, each step a win over winter's wrath. Tears were pouring from my eyes as the wind blew icy breath into my face. The trees roared either in anguish or support, I couldnt' tell which. Perhaps they were also mourning the passage of summer. Be patient earth... huddle down and in 4 short months the warmth will once again tickle your toes.

I was glad to get back to the house and immediately snuggled under my lovely down blanket. It had the makings of being a relaxing afternoon, until,  donk, donk, donk... the musical notes of a dripping tap started to drill into my brain. Jump up... seems that I fixed it... this deserves one of my last gingernut cookies from NZ.

Yesterday I went with Trudie to a shop in Winchester that is going out of business. Colin, the proprietor, has racks and racks of clothes, mostly one off's so I really had to search for stuff. I did come home with a new black & white top, and a black velvet "burn-out" scarf that will be a great coverup for some of my dresses.

The dilemma is what outfit am I going to leave at home if I bring this new one. I could possibly go on a 30 day cruise with all the clothes I have now!

The other crazy thing (speaking of invasion of the body snatchers) is practicing wearing high heels around the house. I totter around and wonder "how the heck am I going to wear these on the ship without breaking my ankle". Standing on one foot is good exercise for ankles too, and I might even try them on the treadmill this afternoon. They do look good though - you must remember Billy Crystal from SNL "it is better to look good than it is to feel good"!

Marie's birthday was Thursday so we gathered at her place to help her celebrate with plenty of bubbles. Eight of us gathered around her huge table for a pot luck feast. Trudie had brought a smoked chicken (I scored the carcass to make soup). There was no lack of spirited conversation - I hope that everyone had as much fun as I did discussing these interesting topics.

Friday night I put the instant pots to use again. They line up on my counter like fat silver drummer boys. Potatoe soup using broth made from the smoked chicken carcass simmered in one pot, roast cooked in the other for a tasty pot roast. My newfound love is potroast. I had leftover coconut rice that I'd taken to Vashek & Marie's the night before which had also been made in the instant pot. The only thing I used my stove for was to keep the bowls warm, and to make garlic bread. We were joined by Pat, Trudie & Leo so we had another interesting night of conversation.

I'm groggy today. At 2:30 am I took a sleep aid as I was tossing and turning and my mind was flitting from one scene to another, the gruesome and the beautiful, the kind and the evil. We'd watched 'the Shape of Water' last night and while good (it reallly was an excellent movie), it was perhaps too much for my bipolar brain to deal with. It tends to grasp on and ruminate over anything that upsets, and there was lots of scenes in this movie to grab my attention. It's really quite irritating - I'd love to watch more movies, but it just isn't worth it, and to this day I haven't found the trick to distracting my mind or turning it off.

It's a bit like an earworm where the brain acts despite instructions otherwise. Even as I write this, and surely the exercise of writing should distract, I am reliving certain scenes. They are likely to haunt me for days.

But enough of the bad. It was a beautifully filmed movie that was a delight to the eye. I don't think any detail was accidental. The theme of water ran throughout the movie, and even the light had an erie underwater feel. Brilliant.

"“Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. 
Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere.” 
~Guillermo del Toro

Monday, December 3, 2018


The poodles had a hair cut yesterday and now are buzzing around like energizer bunnies. Bella had been panting a lot - too much fur was making her hot. Spike must have been hot too - today he galloped at top speed to get my socks, energized by the cold morning. He feels the cold more than Bella, maybe because he's little. He sleeps under a blanket at night and curled into a ball against a fluffy pillow during the day. Neither of them seem unhappy to be nearly naked.

I can see the Norway Spruce's along the road thrashing their branches. The wind gusts and howls through their limbs. We are cosyish in the house - I say 'ish' because the house still hasn't warmed up from its overnight low.

Pat came for supper on Saturday night and we were joined later by Shane and Inga. It was a lovely evening full of interesting conversations. Kirsten called while they were all there and laughed that it seems that whenever she calls we have company. I guess we might! One of my strategies for keeping mentally well is lots of company - it always perks me up.

Yesterday we were at a party for a neighbor's birthday and retirement. When we got there the house was full of people we didn't know. Oh boy... This is not a situation that I thrive in... but I girded myself and walked up to a group of ladies having a conversation and butted right in.  It wasn't my best moment, but I did it and didn't stand by the door looking lost - I survived the afternoon. It was a relief to get home after 2 hours of small talk - that's exhausting for me - I was barely in our door when I collapsed onto the sofa (after changing into comfy jammy/lounge pants of course).

We were out and about this afternoon: visiting Dad and Graham, shwarma, shopping. One of our stops brought us into a rather good liquour store so we took a lookie loo to see what was on sale. A sauvignon blanc from Hawkes Bay, NZ caught me eye - I'd been there! We always drink red wine so this was a bit outside our norm - well, chilled and with a bit of extra-old cheddar and it might be my new favorite. I love the slatey floral bouquet and the burst of flavour is well... fantastic! Yay New Zealand!